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When traveling to China, the world’s most populous country (at over 1.4 billion), it can seem daunting to decide exactly where to go. Combining the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, the most populous city on earth with over 25 million people, with a beach destination like Sanya, located in the south of the country on the island of Hainan, is an ideal introduction, especially for first-time visitors. Staying at the EDITION properties adds a level of luxury and tranquility to the trip that travelers will appreciate. The EDITION brand is the brainchild of Ian Schrager (the creator of Studio 54) –it was launched with great success and has expanded to Miami, Barcelona, London, Bodrum and other locales, with the China properties the newest in the portfolio.

Start your China sojourn in Shanghai—where the energy of this bustling metropolis is a blanket of non-stop activity—before heading to the calm of Sanya, known as the Hawaii of China.

What to do in Shanghai

A must is a visit to Yu Garden, located in the old part of Shanghai. Built in 1559, this expansive spot has Ming Dynasty pavilions, beautiful expansive gardens, arched walkways and a dragon wall enclosure. Be sure to get there early to beat the crowds and definitely book a guide to get the full history of the gardens.

The next stop should be to the Shanghai Towers—it, alongside neighboring World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower—make up the famous Pudong skyline. Shanghai Towers, at 128 floors, is one of the tallest buildings on earth with one of the fastest elevators in the world. What makes a visit here so worth it, is that on a clear day, travelers can see just how sprawling the city of Shanghai is. Plus, you’ll get an amazing view of the snaking Huangpu River.

For shopping, be sure to hit the French Concession, which has everything from one-of-a-kind Chinese design shops to boutique international fashion stores and big-name brands. There are also little bistros, noodle shops and wine bars in this area, so it’s a good place to spend an afternoon.

Perhaps the best evening activity in Shanghai is walking along the Bund, the waterfront area,  taking in the modern skyscrapers along the Pudong District and comparing it against the historic colonial buildings on the International Settlement, on other side of the river.  An evening boat ride along the Huangpu River is also a great option.

After spending the day taking in the sights, coming home to the EDITION Shanghai, in a prime location five minutes away from the Bund along the famous Nanjing Road East

Boulevard, is the ideal respite. The hotel has a funky, hip vibe and photos of the interior are Instagram-worthy. A must is drinks at the Sky Bar where one of the best views of the Pudong skyline can be had—it’s especially amazing at night when the city lights up in purples, pinks and red. The skyline of Shanghai, along with the boats meandering on the Huangpu River, is one of the most memorable take-aways of the trip. The bar is extremely popular—with hotel guests, locals and travelers staying at other properties—so be sure to reserve a table.

The hotels many restaurants are all worth a meal. Shanghai Tavern has an international menu and is known for their extensive buffet breakfast. HIYA, serving up Japanese and Asian-fusion, is under the direction of Jason Atherton, the Michelin-starred London-based restaurateur. Canton Disco is a typical Cantonese specialty restaurant and is good for groups.

Be sure to hit the hotel’s pool, which includes a lap pool and Jacuzzi, before taking in the spa located on floor 6. The spa has an extensive menu of body treatments and facials.

What the Shanghai Edition does so well is combining modern with historical. The original building dates back a hundred years, but the inside is wholly modern.

After spending several days in Shanghai, leave the bustling international city behind and head to Sanya, on the island of Hainan, where the Sanya EDITION resides.   Chinese people from all over the country come to Sanya for a beach holidays as it’s one of the few beach destinations in all of China.

The Sanya EDITION, located on the South China Sea, is a sprawling tropical resort with several pools and a man-made lagoon that pumps in ocean water. The beach is clean and ideal for sunrise and sunset walks. The pool with the best view is the Sky Deck Pool—which overlooks the resort and beach and is a great place to have cocktails or afternoon tea.

The resort has a diverse array of restaurants.  Xian Hai has typical Cantonese fare in an upscale setting. Barbacoa restaurant is the most popular—it serves up Indonesian fusion on the beach and has live nightly music. The Jade Egret, the international restaurant, has delicious Wagyu beef flown in from Australia. The Market, is for casual dining and it has one of the most extensive breakfast buffets—with a noodle station, an omelet station and more than 50 choices of hot and cold dishes.

Many people who come to Sanya spend most of their time at the resort—in addition to the many pools, restaurants, and expansive man-made lagoon which has stand up paddle board and kayaks—the resort has a substantial kids’ area including a kid’s camp, ice cream truck, bumper cars and a mini water park.

Snorkelers and surfers can bike or book a car to the nearby fishing village, where one of the best surfing and snorkeling spots in all of China can be found. We were surprised to find the water a beautiful turquoise color, not unlike that found in the Caribbean.